Lisa Scottoline is a lawyer-turned-thriller writer, with 25 million books in print in the U.S. But with her new nonfiction book, Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog (St. Martin's), Scottoline may well find herself compared to Nora Ephron. Scottoline's collection of essays from her popular Philadelphia Inquirer column, "Chick Wit," explores the female condition with a lively, original sensibility, which includes calling her former husbands Thing One and Thing Two. TIME senior reporter Andrea Sachs reached Scottoline at her "girl farm" in Pennsylvania, where she lives with four dogs, two horses and two cats.
You've been called the female John Grisham. How do you feel about that?
It makes me feel like I'm cross-dressing. I've actually met him; he's a very nice guy. But the truth is, more so than ever before, I have my own voice, and it's not a girl version of a man. By the way, do you ever see any man called [that]? You never see that kind of a description. You'll never see, "He's a guy version of Lisa Scottoline." I resist that as much as I take it as a compliment. The truth is that every writer, whether it's fiction or nonfiction, is trying to write something truly original and that's what I think I'm doing.
So let's get down to the business of your new book. What are Spanx?
You know what? Spanx are a sham. Spanx are an evil hoax perpetrated upon womanhood. It happened to me when I was in a store. I don't have time to shop so I grabbed a pair of tights and figured I would try them on at home. I put them on and I can't get them on. I try to put these on and it's like a tourniquet ... So I thought, what is this garment? I started to do the research. It is in fact body-shaping underwear and it says things on the website like, "It's power panties." The only thing I could think, truly, is that if women had power, they wouldn't need Spanx. Aren't I right? So I threw them away.
What's a fish pedicure?
I didn't have one. I just saw that there was a store near me. It didn't actually ever open up, so maybe the FDA or the food and game commission got to them. Apparently you plunge your feet into water and certain kinds of fish I think they were called surgeon fish, which sounds disgusting enough come and eat your disgusting calluses off. Any middle-aged woman knows that our feet are not for the faint of heart, especially in midwinter. I wear clogs, so it's actually like my feet are wooden now. I think they would defeat any fish.
What's a Guilt-O-Meter?
I noticed that I tend to run on guilt. Around the holidays, there is so much to do. I had so much guilt, it was like a guilt traffic jam ... I said, you've just got to take this guilt and make it work for you, so sort your tasks by which you feel guiltiest about not doing and then the Guilt-O-Meter was invented.
What's an UnResolution?
The whole idea of a resolution is things that you've been doing that you want to try to do better, and I thought especially now, there's so much going on in the world and it's difficult, and people are struggling. And wouldn't we be better off if every New Year's, we thought about the things we did right and we resolved to keep doing them, no matter how wacky they were. For example, sometimes, I admit this even for TIME.com, that I sleep in my clothes. I did last night. It's easier. I'm wearing sweatpants, so it's great because I wake up and I'm already dressed and I'm warm at night. So, my UnResolution is to keep sleeping in my clothes. Or kissing my dog on the lips. That's a fun thing to do and I'm going to keep doing and all through the New Year it will be an UnResolution that I can keep.
You say interrupting gets a bad rap. Why is that?
This might be something that is gender related, but at this point since there are so few men in my life I don't know, I forget. My girlfriends and I interrupt each other all the time and we never take it as an insult. We're just excited. My best friend, whose name is Franca, we'll be talking at dinner sometimes at the same time. We think its great. I never think, "That's so rude." I think it would be rude if she sat there in silence while I spoke. I'm hoping I'm sparking things in her and she's sparking things in me and pretty soon we are off and running. I love it.
Last question. Tell me about your Starbucks venti iced green-tea latte, breve, no melon syrup, light ice. What does that represent to you?
Yummy! I am really, I think, truly an easygoing, positive, fun person. How's that for my singles ad? But it wasn't until I started going to Starbucks that I [realized] I am really picky! This is how I like this drink, it's absolutely delicious. It probably has tons of saturated fat, but it's worth every heart attack you'll ever get from it, and it gives me a little bit of a buzz. But if somebody puts melon syrup on it, I am going to throw it away, like a big baby. It's terrible.
The truth is that the book is about that. The book is about that there are little things; you can't have everything in this life. There are lots of things that I don't have, like dates, but the truth is I really take the time and I want people to take the time to celebrate the small little things that they love, like the really perfect drink. Life is short otherwise.